Revolution opens up to the booming, furious voice of Cronos Diamante reverberating throughout the locker room area of The SHOOT Project Epicenter.
Cronos Diamante: SAUDADE! YOU. MOTHER. FUCKER!
In a state of anger beyond comprehension, Cronos’ words are bold and venomous. Breaking into a full on sprint, Cronos charges his prey who immediately disappears through an exit to the parking lot. A few moments pass and Cronos bursts through the door nearly taking it off it’s hinges spilling out onto the asphalt. Quickly pushing himself to one knee, Cronos scans the parking lot for Saudade.
Cronos Diamante: Where did you go you fucking pussy!?
A vehicle across the lot roars to life as Cronos quickly considers his options to pursue. Looking the other direction at his own vehicle, the engine revs. Deciding there was no time and his vehicle was entirely too far away, Cronos takes off toward Saudade. Throwing it into gear, Saudade peels out into the flow of traffic. Cronos pursues on foot, dodging vehicles but quickly falls behind. This may be his only chance to catch the man responsible for the death of his family and there is NO way he was going to escape this easily.
Cronos Diamante: Fuck it.
Turning around, Cronos dodges a few cars before jumping in front of a motorcycle which comes to a screeching halt nearly crashing in it’s last second attempt to avoid him. Grabbing the much smaller rider, Cronos throws him to the pavement and hops on and speeds away in the direction Suadade went. As Cronos disappears into the background, the real Suadade steps out of the shadows slightly to where only his mouth is showing and reveals a large sinister grin upon his face.
Suadade: I knew that would work.
Eryk Masters: He switched in the middle of the chase!!! This Suadade character really has Cronos’ number. I’ve not seen him manipulated like this in a long time. We’ll be monitoring the situation as the night goes on folks.
Herald: Ahh, Dan Stein. Just the man I was looking for. Molly, how do you do?
Herald: Yes, I can see how it might appear that way, but I assure you, Daniel, my hands are clean of this one. It was probably nothing…or maybe you have a secret admirer who wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be anything to get between him and you.
Herald slowly looked over at Molly, then back to Stein. Dan exhaled deeply throwing his head back.
Dan Stein: Alright, Henry, then why are you here?
Herald nods, pointing at Dan. The mysterious, distorted man steps over to Molly. Molly gulps, closing off her body by turning slightly. Herald reaches out and grabs a bit of Molly’s hair, rolling it around his thumb and first two fingers. Dan stands up immediately, and Herald and his attention snaps to Dan, though he hesitates before letting Molly’s hair go.
Herald: Awfully protective of an assistant. (Herald steps in front of Dan again). Just making my rounds as Master ordered. Making sure each and every one of the SHOOT Project Soldiers knows his place here in SHOOT Project is safe, most especially a former World Heavyweight Champion, such as yourself.
Dan Stein: That’s funny, being as I resemble absolutely nothing of the man handpicked to hold the World Heavyweight Championship.
Herald: If you’re implying Kenji Yamada is World Heavyweight Champion because the Master wille-
Dan Stein: Just shut up, man. I get it, Kenji had to fight the three of us, I understand that. But you didn’t see the three of us get a pass to the finals, did you? What was it you said to Coleman? You want blood and glory? I get the glory part, but Kenji Yamada’s the type of guy that murders pizza boys with claw hammers, you know what I mean?
Herald pauses, letting Stein’s words reverberate in the room. Herald saunters past Molly, toward the door and stops in the doorway, ‘looking’ back in at Dan.
Herald: Blood...and glory. Yes, my Master definitely trusts those rewards will be the results of your battles. Of course, not necessarily together and not necessarily for everyone. I think, in time, you’ll find that you are far more similar to the likes of Kenji Yamada, Isaac Entragian, or even the mongrel Adrian Corazon, than the Dan Stein you knew before SHOOT Project. (Herald glances at Molly, before returning his gaze to Stein.) Have a safe match tonight. Pascal is more of a threat than I imagined.
You’ve Got the Touch!
The Faithful rise to their feet as Stan Bush’s “The Touch” echos across the arena. Spinning out from the back, Dan Stein twirls himself out in front of Molly, his supposed assistant. The majority of the fans still boo Stein, which he has grown to expect, but as he looks out over the crowd, he stops to embrace the reaction.
Eryk Masters: I know that part of his entourage was involved in a minor fender bender outside of the arena, but this entrance is small, even for Stein.
Samantha Coil: Introducing first, from right here in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a former SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion, former two time SHOOT Project Sin City Champion, former two time SHOOT Project Iron Fist Champion, and most recently, a former Rule of Surrender Champion, thus making him SHOOT Project’s latest Grand Slam Champion, weighing in at 214 pounds, he is the Sexiest Man in SHOOT Project, “The Golden Boy”.... DAAAAAAAAN STEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!
Eryk Masters: Ah, there it is.
Other Guy: You got to hand it to him, Eryk. With this Pascal kid gunning for him, Stein sure knows how to rub in his history here in SHOOT Project.
Masters nearly throws his notes in the air as Samantha finishes her introduction. Dan struts around the padding around the ring, walking behind the ring to the announce table. The Faithful begin to react in unison as Stein picks up a third headset at the table.
Dan Stein: What’s up, OG. Masters, I smell you took a shower, thanks for that. How are the two of you doing tonight?
Eryk Masters: We’ll be doing fine once you get in that ring!
Other Guy: Eryk, don’t disrespect our guest. He’s just here to say, “Hello”!
Dan Stein: Yeah, Eryk, don’t disrespect the guest. Besides, I just wanted to say that Michael has been very chatty about what happened to him last week, and I think this is the perfect opportunity for that young whipper snapper to learn from a grizzled old veteran in the virtue of humility. It’s not every day someone gets to lose to Dan Stein, just every Friday, or...sometimes every other Friday, or… you get the point, Eryk.
COME IN TO THE PARTY DRESSED TO KILL!
The guitar riff to “Eminence Front” by The Who begins to play as Dan looks up at the entrance waiting Markus arrival.
Samantha Coil: Now coming to the ring...hailing from Vancouver, Ontario, Canada.
Dan Stein: Ah, well, looks like I have to bid you fellas adieu. Other Guy, have a good night. Eryk, get bent. Tata.
The SHOOT fans stand to their feet, looking up towards the aisle...
The sound of wood meeting flesh is sicken as Dan falls to his knees, letting out a scream of agony as Markus stands behind him with a kendo stick in his hand. Molly ducks out of the way, covering her mouth with her hands. With a stoic look on his face, Markus looks around at the SHOOT crowd, taking hold of the kendo stick with both hands, daring Stein to stand to his feet.
Eryk Masters: Dear God, that's Markus Pascal!
Other Guy: You damn right it is and he just nailed Dan Stein with that kendo stick!
As if on cue, Markus brings the kendo stick back and with a Major League esque swing, he wraps it around the torso of Stein as it cracks loudly once again bringing Stein to his knees in pain. Molly tries to run in front of Stein, but Markus pulls the kendo stick back to frighten her off.
Discarding, the now splintering, kendo stick Markus begins to deliver series of kicks to the midsection of Stein before shooting off from the opposite direction, delivering a front dropkick to Stein's face as Markus jumps back up to his feet.
Eryk Masters: As much as I, and the fans, don’t like this guy, someone's got to stop this! Markus Pascal is taking all of his frustration out on Stein here!
Other Guy: Stop what? The match hasn't begun...and let's not forget than Dan Stein isn't exactly the most ‘likable’ guy in the back. Other than his own entourage, whose conveniently not here tonight at ringside, who's going to help him?
Markus grabs the head of Stein dragging him to his feet before driving his head into the announce table several times putting Stein on dream street. Making his way towards the ring, Markus flips up the ring apron and reaches underneath, grabbing a steel chair as wicked smile spreads over his lips. Molly is absolutely beside herself, yelling at Markus to stop. Markus smirks at her, then glances over at Dan who struggles to get to his feet, still wondering about the train that just hit him.
He doesn't have to wonder long as Markus tosses the chair to Dan, who catches it out of pure instinct…
The silence that sweeps over the crowd is awe-inspiring as Markus connects with a shuffle sidekick driving the chair into the face of Dan Stein who crumples like a old brown paper bag. Markus stands over the nearly destroyed Dan Stein with a smile on his face as he opens his arms wide as the SHOOT faithful shower Markus with boos.
Eryk Masters: Boo all you want but I don't think that he cares let alone gives a damn!
Markus reaches down to grab the warped steel chair and back to the downed Dan Stein as he opens the chair slightly sliding Dan's head between the chair as Markus climbs the announcement table.
Eryk Masters: Jesus Christ, Markus! That's enough! The man's has enough!
Other Guy: Then you stop him! For that matter...anyone!
Markus lines himself ready to leap, ready to possibly take away the career of the Golden Boy...only for the crowd pop as both Tina and Toni come racing down the aisle and around the ring as Markus finds it's time to make his exit through the SHOOT crowd.
Eryk Masters: What a disgusting act from Markus Pascal! A man with so much potential to do such a thing to another human being.
Other Guy: But Markus even told Dan that he's brought this upon himself! We watch Dan Stein cost Markus a chance at becoming the Iron Fist Championship and promised payback and it seems that a Markus Pascal Retribution is a helluva thing.
Molly dashes over to Dan, who lies motionless on the padding around the ring, cradling his head in her lap, while screaming for help.
Eryk Masters: Can we please get some officials out here to help Dan Stein out? Let’s toss it to the back so we can get this cleared up.
Bolt cutters swing into view, a hand draped in thin leather holding them. Heavy, powerful footsteps are climbing up stairs, the black boots steadily making that uphill climb. The figure appears before the crackly surface of a door, the wood warped, the knob chained and barred with a thick padlock.
The bolt cutters reach outward and the figure uses unfathomable strength to snap through the metal of the lock, taking it into one leather hand and tossing it down the stairs, the broken lock clattering as it falls.
He steps into the familiar fire-damaged skybox, taking a moment to inhale deeply of the scent of ash and cinders. Some of his personal items remain. There’s a crystalline bottle of absinthe with two glasses on a silver platter near a torn black chair. The brazier is still there too, situated right next to the skybox window. The figure lights it, firelight dancing and casting long shadows.
His keen gaze stares out from the skybox window, taking in the massive arena that is the Epicenter. The thousands of seats. The aroma of sweat, blood, and many desiccated careers flowing into his nostrils, intoxicating him. He pours himself a glass of absinthe and swirls the wormwood liquor around in his mouth.
He removes his gloves, letting his pale, gnarled hands move across the soot-smeared wood of that skybox window. He tilts his head back, his hood falling away from his face. His eyelids are closed. His scars are everlasting. He drinks in the moment just as he drinks in the absinthe.
A single word escapes pallid, tattered lips…
The eyes return to the view beyond the window, that gaze anti-freeze green and always seeking attrition. That gaze goes beyond the seats. It goes directly to that ring canvas—the stark black Helmet standing out in the center of the cloth. His ring. The ring where Kenji Yamada achieved something that he has wanted for longer than he dares to even recall…dog surpassing master, building a new and dominant legacy…the name “Yamada” enough to freeze men and women’s blood in the locker room now.
That wormwood liquor swirls in his mouth.
The firelight dances in those harrowed, hateful eyes.
He spits a mouthful of absinthe through the brazier, the liquor causing an explosion of fire to spew out from the skybox window.
The flames a mere preview of the reckoning to come…
It isn’t like JASON RILEY to be so pensive, but after last week’s security drubbing and accidentally landing a job dishing out drugs for a shady dude he met in an ally, he was due for a little stress. Not helping matters, his three hour plus walk to the Epicenter had taken its toll, and Riley looks ready to collapse in the parking lot. This was Las Vegas in early March, which was different than Chicago… Thirty degrees different; a fact Jason had not taken into account while grabbing two sweatshirts, a single white T-shirt from his closet back home, and one pair of black jeans. One of those two hoodies is tied around his waste, his ONLY shirt is dripping in sweat, and he has an atrocious case of “swamp dick”. Granted, he didn’t expect that he’d still be in town, but regardless, he looks and feels pretty gross.
Marching on the back entrance into the arena through the “employee” parking lot, Jason takes a final drag off a cigarette between his fingers, (his fourth of the trip) before flicking it away onto the asphalt. He eyes two guards posted outside, and grunts.
“Mother fuckers.” Riley whispers to himself as he shakes his head in disbelief.
He really hopes these are different guards than last time, but can already see they probably aren’t. It’s only two… a girl and a guy, and neither of them is the giant woman from last week, but they look familiar. The guy has a shitty, meat-head crew-cut, brown hair, dumb, beefy face and colorless eyes, while the woman, brunette, brown eyes, has her hair pulled back in a ponytail. He’s pretty sure it’s the same girl, but ONE HUNDRED percent sure it’s the same dude. (He sees the asp at his side, and who else would get that garbage haircut, seriously.) Both are in black slacks, Black SHOOT Project “SECURITY” T-shirts, and black boots.
Dude Guard totally sees Jason and grabs at his side, fingers on the asp, while Girl Guard perks up and readies herself for confrontation.
“GODDAMN IT!” Riley shouts after being immediately recognized.
”Turn it around.” Girl Guard warns.
”Don’t make us do something you wouldn’t like, buddy. Dude Guard chimes in, being an asshole.
With his hands held in the air, Riley signals that he means no harm, but isn’t deterred from walking forward.
”Okay, first…” Riley stares at the asp. ”You don’t need to fucking asp me. AND SECOND… I just want one fucking interview… Okay? I don’t even care if it gets on the webcast, jus….
“Gotta go through The Herald. Same thing we said last week. Girl Guard warns.
”Bein kinda light on this prick, don’tcha think, Kristen?” Dude guard smirks at his partner before turning back to Jason. ”Save yourself some time and just turn around, my man. He looks Riley up and down, noting his rugged appearance. “Go home. Get a shower.”
Riley shakes his head.
“Naaah. No. I just walked three hours because my car has no fucking gas and my.. He makes quotation marks with his fingers “..HOME, is a hostel that I’m sharing with 8 fucking Canadian Hipster mountain hike, adventure faggots and I REALLY DON’T feel like spending a whole night pretending to give a FLYING FUCK about their cool ‘OH TORONTO IS AWESOME’ stories.”
Jason Riley does not stop walking, and it appears that violent intentions are in his eyes.
“So I’m gonna fucking get a FUCKING interview. AND, to be frank… I like my chances two on…”
Before he can finish the sentence, the door bursts open and the six-foot five MONSTER WOMAN joins “Kristen” and “Dude Guard”.
“FUCK!!!!” Riley immediately stops walking. His revolution has been dismantled. “SERIOUSLY?”
”Everything okay?” Monster Woman asks, her eyes squarely on Riley’s soul.
Kristen nods, and Dude Guard smirks.
“Is it?” Dude Guard asks Riley, sarcastically.
”Where in the ACTUAL FUCK DID YOU COME FROM?” Riley is beside himself.
”We see everything. Surveillance for miles off the property.” Kristen responds, coldly.
In most situations, it’s not unlikely that Jason would storm at all three, and fight for as long and as hard and as dirty as necessary.
But this was different.
He takes a deep breath and glowers at the trio of guards. Then he looks to his left, followed by his right. Surveillance for miles… He looks behind, circles around, shaking his head.
“Tom…” He spins, looking up, having no idea where any of the cameras would be. ”TOM!!! CAN YOU SEE THIS? ARE YOU WATCHING THIS YOU ASSHOLE?!? He shouts at the top of his lungs, while the three guards stand ready.
”THIS IS MY INTERVIEW! OKAY, TOM? WHERE ARE YOU?” He moves around, looking every which way, as he shouts into the Las Vegas, desert abyss. ”TOM… OR… IF ANYONE IS WATCHING THAT KNOWS TOM… I NEED RENT PLEASE! OKAY? I NEED TOM TO PAY HIS RENT! THAT’S IT! THAT’S ALL! JUST PAY YOUR BILLS AND FUCKING RENT!!!!”
After staring at nothing in various directions and levels, he finally just… stops.
“Long day, huh?” Jason asks the guards.
He reaches into his pocket for another smoke and pulls out a pack of Marlboro lights
An empty pack.
“Heh.” Riley laughs and tosses it on to the ground.
The guards stare at him.
He stares directly back.
“I fucking hate all three of you. Okay? You can all fuck off. All THREE of you can literally get fucked.” He gets more frustrated, but tries to stay calm. “When my friend turns up dead, that’s on YOU THREE FUCKING IDIOTS.” He can’t help but shout, while pointing at each of the three guards.
“And I HOPE you have ELEVEN HUNDRED FORTY DOLLARS… because THAT’S WHAT TOM OWES ME. Two months’ rent and for internet! He starts thinking over the math a little more. ”Actually… NO! TWELVE! An extra sixty for the fucking weed he stole from me. Still working it out in his brain. “No! You know what… MAKE IT TWELVE SIXTY, cause he actually took TWO EIGHTHS!
“TWELVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DOLLARS!
Riley’s glowering doesn’t seem to be working, and he realizes how dumb this probably looks to anyone else in the world. The guards are clearly unfazed, and Jason takes the hint.
”Fine…Okay” He turns his back and starts to walk away.
“You’re right annoying dude guard. I DO need a shower. Good call, BRO. THANKS FOR THE FUCKING GOOD ADVICE!!”
Jason Riley is no closer to finding his friend.
He smells like a tire.
And he has a three hour trip back to the hostel.
This day pretty much sucks a giant, unwanted swamp cock.
The scene opens up. Eric Rohkar is already in the ring, pacing back in and forth, waiting for his opponent to come to the ring. Samantha Coil looks a bit frazzled, as if something weird had just happened, and Austin Linam gives Eric dirty look. Eric is ignoring all of this, simply staring at the top of the ring.
The crowd instantly hushes as the jumbotron turns on and they are met with the a pitch black screen. A few moments pass before a man speaks up with a voice modifier to mask his identity.
Man: Hello SHOOT Project. My name is Suadade. While Cronos is out chasing around my doppelganger, I find it’s high time I introduce myself. We were young, once. All of us. Young, hungry, hopeful...impressionable. I remember back, sometimes, to when I was just a little punk with a level of supervision, or even guidance, most would consider less than moderate. I looked up to the kids that seemed to garner the most respect from the neighborhood elite- which would be the guys that seemed to walk like us, talk like us, and do a whole lot of nothing, just like us, except they had nice cars, stylish clothes- you know, gangsters. It only took two or three kids out of my crew to catch a great deal of heat from the law for me to figure out my place was in the gym- the other place where folks could command respect, just by looking like they belonged. Jail wasn't for me and, at the time, neither was taking three or four shots to the chest and cementing my legacy by way of a dozen tattoos baring my name across shoulders, backs and chests of the hooligans I called friends. My father was a hardworking construction guy and my mother was nurse at the local walk in clinic. Lucky enough to have two caring parents, I couldn't indulge my curiosities about the seedier side of life. Couldn't be a gangster, so...
A spark lights the otherwise midnight darkness that shrouded Saudade.
Saudade: For the sake of brevity, I'll just say, I found my spot in the gym, wrestling, boxing, whatever...and I found that respect I craved. To an extent. That innate desire for respect in all facets of life persisted. I was still allured by something better and the men who had it. I ran with the bad crowd, but I played by the rules. I was too worried about letting my folks down, but at night, I'd always ponder what it'd be like to be one of the manipulators. The ones who seemingly did nothing and received everything in return. They lived by their own code. They made their own rules, and if they were smart enough, not only did they get away with their misdeeds, they benefitted from them.
Saudade chuckles as an image of Cronos’ chase flashes on screen.
Saudade: Guys like him. It wasn't long after I strapped on the boots and decided to throw down for a living that I met Cronos Diamante. Long story short, he took me under his wing. I should have listened to my father. Emulated him. Instead, Cronos became my mentor and the guide of my thought process. He promised me fame. Fortune. Championships. Power over others, the likes of which I could attain by doing what others wouldn't. I studied his mantra and I lived by his creed. He was the devil and I’d like to think, I was his greatest demon.
The flick of a lighter is heard, but cannot be seen. White smoke rolls over broad shoulders.
Saudade: His promises were truthful. I became a champion, multiple times. When cards were released, my name opposite yours meant you were about to fight the devil...or, the Devil's apprentice, I suppose. One step away from the real thing. I ended careers. I ruined lives- not only those of my opponents- opponents, mind you, sometimes not even enemies- but also the lives of those who depended on those men. Under Cronos’ influence, the smartest, most diabolical winner of the wrestling world...I irreparably changed the lives of doz- no, no...hundreds of folks. But, just like every endeavor one repeats with the intention of improvement, the first is always the one you never forget. Especially, in my case. Cronos’ grasp on my youthful, exuberant, avaricious desire to conquer...
Burning embers disappear after a simple flick.
Saudade: Began with me. His influence led me to ruin and when I came to this recognition, I decided to do what was fair. What my father would have told me to do. If someone hits you, ya hit em back. That's what I did. I ruined his life.
Another flick of a lighter sounds.
Saudade: But, just as in my youth, my impatience got the best of me. Poor guy deserves to know who murdered his family, doesn't he? Years, I've waited, but I guess the powers that be hated Cronos more than I ever did. Reckoning is what I'm after. Closure. Desolation, confusion...wandering through purgatory for all eternity...I guess, that's what they wanted. I’ve grown tired of waiting. Unquenchable longing has been dealt. Gallons of sodium laced water have been drank. Now, is the time for retribution.
A cigarette cherry lights just the tip of a black hood.
Saudade: Mine. The rest of it. It’s time for him to feel ultimate hopelessness- one of a truly personal nature. Retribution is at hand, yes, indeed. But it ain’t his.
The controlled burning flame becomes brighter in the darkness, until it passes a familiar sign, labelled “Welcome to the Epicenter.”
Saudade: Over the span of your life, you've made your bed, Cronos. Now I put you to sleep.
The camera pans to see the hooded man’s reflection shrinking in The SHOOT Project's glass doored entrance.
Other Guy: This Saudade has some balls on him shooting that from the Epicenter while he has Cronos out chasing a ghost!
Eryk Masters: Speaking of Cronos, look at the jumbotron. He’s going to get himself killed chasing Suadade’s doppelganger through the Vegas streets.
Cronos switches into the oncoming traffic lane and narrowly dodges an oncoming car as he accelerates and gains ground but merges back into his own lane, now only a few car lengths back from his target. His target sharply turns into an alley and drives a few blocks south before dumping out onto East Sahara Avenue. Cronos isn’t far behind him, however, and manages to narrowly miss a bus with approximately twelve passengers on board.
Eryk Masters: That could have been a disaster. I’m not sure how much more of this I can handle.
At that moment in time the chase shifts to Burnham Drive toward Valley High School. The prey Cronos has been stalking all this time turns into the parking lot of the high school, turns his car off and slides out holding his hands above his head clearly not wanting to pursue the high speed chase any longer. Cronos takes the opportunity to jump off the stolen motorcycle and let it ram into the backend of the parked car in the lot ensuring he won’t escape and almost reaches the surrendering man in a single stride.
Cronos Diamante: You son of a bitch… I’m going to…
Young Man: Wait, wait, wait… I was paid to lead you here. He told me he’d give me two-thousand dollars just to lead you away from the show and to this high school. I don’t even know who he is.
Cronos visibly shaken from the news kicks at the car and begins to beat a dent into the hood of the car. The man with his hands up is scared to death of what might happen if he makes any action toward leaving. Cronos kicks the front bumper one hard time and looks to the man and shoos him off, having heard the sirens long ago and just now seeing them a few blocks away.
Cronos Diamante: Next time don’t be an idiot and just take someone’s money like that. I almost killed you. Now go. Cops will be here any minute. They only need one person to arrest.
The young man looks at Cronos thankfully and nods his head then disappears into the school’s football field. Cronos smirks and pounds his fists into the hood of his car one more time before throwing an absolute fit kicking the motorcycle that thus far hadn’t been touched.
Cronos Diamante: Well played you piece of shit.
The scene on the jumbotron fades with Cronos being hauled away in handcuffs and being read his rights by Las Vegas’ finest.
Other Guy: At least nobody was harmed but I can’t imagine we can be saying that much longer. Cronos is a volatile man right now and if I were a betting man, he’s going to lose it completely when he finally gets his hands on Suadade.
Eryk Masters: Can’t say I blame him. After what we just heard, we now know this man is responsible for the fire at Cronos’ home those few years back. I’m not exactly a fan of Cronos but even I want to see the man get justice. Nobody should have to go through what he’s gone through, OG.
The mask was stained with blood.
Arturo Escuela tried to muster as much fight as his aging body could, but it was not enough.She took Arturo to school.
Now...his blood stained mask was all that remained.
Lucy Blaylock was never a thief, but she needed to take this memento.
This spoil of war.
She waited until a dejected and beated Escuela washed his sorrow away in the showers, and walked right into the locker room and took it.
She covered her massive fist with the mask, and stared at it. Her bright green eyes bore into the eye holes of the mask.
It was as if she was looking through the windows of his soul.
The camera pans down. The smooth skin of her arms gives way to her ample chest, covered in a black tank top. Her obsidian hair fell in curtains.
The camera moves lower.
It seems to go on for ever, but there is a lot of Lucy Blaylock.
And this monstrous woman has had her first taste of blood.
The camera sharply returns to her face. She grins into the camera. Her ruby red lips forming a near sneer.
She's had her first taste of blood.
And she's coming back for more.
"Almost Famous" by Eminem sounds and Cade Sydal makes his way through the curtain followed by Cassi Ryan and the Suicide Test Dummy, all three in blue and black. Cade pushes the hood of his Assassin's Creed-esque blue and black jacket back as Cassi begins to introduce him.
Cassi Ryan: Ladies and gentlemen, shut your mouths and put your hands together to welcome the greatest man to ever grace a ring with his presence with the greeting he rightfully deserves!
The Faithful begin to boo at the trio, and STD shouts insults back at them without a mic while Cassi continues, unphased.
Cassi Ryan: Coming to save all of you, from League Headquarters! He is SHOOT Project's Savior! He is the General of the Just Us League! He's God's Favorite Wrestler! Cade! Sydal!
Cade jumps up onto the apron and steps through the ropes with his left foot, planting it on the bottom rope he uses it to spring to the center of the ring where he throws his fingerguns in the air and crosses them at his wrists, the apparent Just Us League hand sign before unzipping his jacket and throwing it to the attendant on the outside.
Other Guy: Ya know, I think I might like this Just Us League...
Eryk Masters: Really?
Other Guy: I mean, look at them. They've got a ton of confidence, and of course there's that smoke show, Cassi.
Eryk Masters: Of course.
The music fades out and is replaced with Chevelle's "The Red" and CJ Nelson comes marching out from the back, never taking his eyes off of Cade Sydal on his way down the ramp. When he reaches the bottom of the ramp he casts one cautionary glance to the Suicide Test Dummy before walking up the steps deliberately and getting in the ring to glare at Cade.
Samantha Coil: And his opponent! CJ Nelson!
Samantha Coil wastes no time getting out of the ring, even rushes through her introduction, as even she can see that the two men in the ring are ithcing to fight. Anyone. And she doesn't want to get caught in the crossfire.
Eryk Masters: CJ and Cade could probably get along under any other circumstances, they both want to fight.
Other Guy: Yeah, but CJ wants revenge and Cade wants to save all of us!
Eryk Masters: So you're just going to buy that, huh?
Other Guy: What's to buy? They said they're here to fight anyone and everyone because everyone's gotten soft. I can support that.
The bell sounds and Cade insists on locking up, but CJ is having none of that as he shoves Cade back and into the corner, rushing in for a big splash in the corner but Cade rolls under CJ's arms in a somersault out of the way, CJ puts on the brakes before crashing into the corner and swats Cade's dropkick to the side! Cade slithers backward to the opposite corner to create space before getting back to his feet.
Eryk Masters: CJ Nelson isn't looking to grapple, he's looking to pummel.
Other Guy: Cade's just got to restrategize, that's all.
Cade takes a moment to rethink his strategy as CJ tenses up in anticipation, itching for a fight. Cade starts moving to the center of the ring and CJ explodes out of his corner, swinging a big clothesline, but Cade ducks under the wild swing and hits the ropes, coming back looking for a flying head scissors! But CJ throws him into the air and off of him, Cade contorts his body to land on his feet and takes off again this time diving low with a dropkick to CJ's knee, finally connecting with something.
Other Guy: See? Now he's got him.
CJ drops to a knee and Cade snaps a pair of kicks into CJ's chest to capitalize before hitting the ropes only to be caught as CJ pushes off his knee and scoops Cade up with a flapjack, sending Cade crashing onto his face!
Eryk Masters: No, now CJ got him! Ha!
Cade immediately sees flashes of white and doesnt even realise he's being pinned at first.
Cade barely hears the two and kicks out, shaking his head to try and regain his bearings, but CJ won't let up as he sends Cade off the ropes and catches him on the rebound with both hands, hoisting him up into a military press before turning him and snapping him down into a sit out spinebuster!
Eryk Masters: Holy shit! That shook the ring!
Cade rolls his right shoulder off the canvas. He's reeling now, his plan has completely backfired and his brain goes into overtime to try and figure out a way out of the predicament. He turns to make eye contact with Cassi before tilting his head sideways a little just as CJ pulls Cade back up to his feet. Cassi Ryan leaps onto the apron and begins shouting at CJ, causing the official to turn his attention to her to instruct her to get down and CJ gets distracted for a moment too before Cade digs both thumbs into his eye sockets!
Other Guy: Now that's what I call team work! There's no way CJ Nelson can overcome the number game alone.
Cassi conveniently gets off the apron and Cade grabs CJ's left wrist tightly and spins under it whilst kicking his ankle out from under him, driving him shoulder first into the canvas!
Eryk Masters: And just like that, Cade has found an advantage after trying to permanently blind the man!
Cade attacks like a shark smelling blood, going right after the shoulder mercilessly with high-kicking stomps and driving his knee into it. CJ feels the burning in his rotator cuff as soon as Cade bridges over his back with a nasty armbar! CJ refuses to give up and digs and claws to get a hand to the bottom rope. Cade maintains the hold until right before the count of five, wanting to tear at the shoulder even longer. No shoulder, no strength.
Other Guy: Say what you will about how he got it, but now that he has the advantage Cade is going to tear that arm right off of CJ!
Eryk Masters: He's certainly doing everything he can to negate CJ's superior strength.
CJ starts to pull himself up in the corner but Cade rushes him with a SWYG to the shoulder before snapmaring him out of the corner and wrapping the arm up across CJ's face, placing his knee inbetween CJ's shoulder blades. When CJ doesn't tap, Cade adjusts his leg so it's horizontal across CJ's neck and falls back, driving CJ's neck into his shin while ripping at the arm more and CJ screams in pain for the first time in the contest as the firey sensation overcomes him!
Eryk Masters: That was a vicious sort of half straight jacket seated neckbreaker!
Other Guy: He could have broken CJ's neck or ripped his shoulder ouit of socket! Or both!
Cade pushes CJ down onto his back and snaps into a standing shooting star press, placing a hand on CJ's face and the other on his chest as he covers!
If it weren't for the relaxed cover CJ might not have kicked out, he realizes as he regains awareness of his surroundings. Cade doesn't seem to mind, almost enjoys the fact that CJ wants to fight still. Even taunts him by telling him he could join the League if he just calls the match off right now, but CJ starts hammering his right hand into Cade's gut and then face backing him to a corner!
Eryk Mastyers: I guess that's CJ's way of saying no to Cade's offer!
CJ grabs Cade behind the head with his right hand and sends him to the other corner, where Cade runs up and backflips through, right onto CJ's right shoulder before CJ swings him off and into a backbreaker across his left knee with his left arm and immediately clutches his shoulder as Cade holds his spasming back, his decade-plus old injury resurfacing!
Other Guy: Both men felt that one! CJ used his wounded arm and shattered Cade's spine!
Cade starts to push up to his feet as CJ starts to get some soreness out of his shoulder just in time to clothesline Cade, followed by a huge back body drop, and then a big blue thunder bomb!
Cade barely kicks out of, purely on instinct!
Eryk Masters: CJ almost had him there!
CJ yanks Cade up by his hair, only to be caught with a high roundhouse kick that rocks him, followed by a reverse roundhouse that drops him in a heap! CJ sees nothing but darkness!
Other Guy: That's it! CJ's done!
CJ rolls his shoulder off the canvas! Cade grabs his hair and starts freaking out! CJ blinks himself back to conciousness, unsure of how he even kicked out himself but he knows he still has a chance, especially when he sees Cade slapping the canvas and having a temper tantrum.
Other Guy: C'mon Cade! CJ's getting back up!
Cade spots CJ getting to his feet and points his finger guns at CJ before taking mock fire with them! Just as CJ turns around Cade leaps for the NINJAGUIRI! But CJ ducks it and Cade twists his body to land on his feet once more! Cade turns into a boot to the gut! CJ hoists Cade up into the crucifix powerbomb position before driving him down with aiuthority!
Eryk Masters: Crucifix Escapist!
CJ drops and goes for the cover, clutching his left shoulder!
"The Red" by Chevelle begins to play as CJ pushes to his feet and the official raises his hand.
Samantha Coil: And your winner! CJ NELSON!
As Coil is saying his name, though, STD slides into the ring behind CJ. CJ turns around and STD throws a bunch of baby powder up into his face! CJ swings blindly at STD but STD easily steps back and out of the way before stepping into him with a superkick right under his left eye!
Eryk Masters: Oh come on! This is why we can't have nice things!
Other Guy: CJ never saw it coming! Haha!
CJ drops hard and Cade gets to his feet now, stomping away at CJ as STD does the same while the music comes to an abrupt halt. The referee tries to get them to stop but STD moves to hit him instead! Cade grabs STD's arm to stop him and then they both slowly raise their arms, crossed at the wrists with finger guns up at the sky, to a chorus of boos. "Almost Famous" by Eminem hits and the two ne get out of the ring after one more stomp a piece on the prone body of CJ Nelson, then together with Cassi they make their way up the ramp, grinning proudly all the while.
Bright spotlights illuminate the SHOOT Project ring, while the rest of the epicentre sits empty and alone, shrouded in darkness and the odd echo from the stands. Two silhouettes sit perched on stalls in the centre of the ring, nodding their heads in a manner that would suggest a conversation is taking place.
I…am a man…of constant sorrow…
As they walk down the ramp, Breedlove’s eyes never leave Buck Dresden, and the camera focuses in on him. Stitched in gold, the letters “M” and “I” become apparent. Buck’s eyes go wide as Breedlove climbs into the ring, microphone in hand.
Joshua Breedlove: Have you figured it out yet, you simple little neanderthal? Look at the letters on my jacket. I’ll wait for you to put them together. Go on.
The Faithful let Breedlove know that they do not approve of his insult towards Dresden; he waves them off.
Joshua Breedlove: That’s right, Buckley. Magnus International. All that horsespittle that you were just drawling on about, it all comes back to this. Excuse me, Kitsune? My title belt, please.
Kitsune, who was also wearing a jacket, unbuttons it and then slides the Reality Check Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship from around his waist and hands it to Breedlove who slings it over his shoulder.
Joshua Breedlove: You see, while you were out ‘saving Alienation-One’, we were in Mexico, doing this. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, yours is too. Josh and Sean have great tastes in symbols of greatness, what with their egos and all. Yet, here we are in the SHOOT Project, Buck, and your history? Well… you might say that it’s come back to bite you. Like snake venom, or something disgusting like what you’d find in Hazard, Kentucky and the holler--excuse me--hollow that you crawled out from.
Breedlove begins to walk slowly back and forth in front of Dresden, eyes locked on the Bluegrass Bad Ass.
Joshua Breedlove: I find it so funny that you’re spinning this sad tale this way. You and I both know that Charles isn’t upset in the slightest. In fact, I think the only thing he felt towards you in this whole ordeal is pity. Sad, pathetic, distasteful pity.
So, you’re right. I do move like your ‘brother’. I do fight like your ‘brother’. I do think like your ‘brother’, and you want to know why, Buckley? Because Charles and I are cut from the same cloth. Your Bad Ass Brotherhood was cute, and yeah, you guys were successful, but it’s nothing like what Magnus International is now and your bond with Charles? It is nothing like the respect and admiration that he and I have for one another.
Buck throws his hat from his head, stepping to Breedlove as each of those words burn him in a way he didn’t expect.
Buck Dresden: Lookahere, man. You ‘n’ me, we don’t really know each other. You wanna beat me in a match, that’s fine. You wanna get one the fuck over on me, man? That’s fine. But ain’t a day goes by I don’t regret what I did in Japan. I reckon a guy like you’s my price to pay.
He clenches his fists. He wants to strike, he comes close, bringing his hands up for a mere moment before dropping them once more.
Buck Dresden: I’m tryna be better’n what I was. I used to be a big ol’ asshole what turned a blind eye to bullshit an’ sons o’ bitches like you with a smile on my face an’ laughed yer kind off. Then I’d sneak up on you later’n bust yer fuckin’ head clean open. Now, though? Now here I am lookin’ at a man wearin’ my brother’s colors, laughin’ in my face, an’ Joshua? Joshua...man…
...my fight ain’t with you. I see what I gotta do now. This ain’t about me ‘n’ you.
Joshua Breedlove laughs once as Kitsune has moved behind Dresden and just hits him HARD with a clothesline to Buck’s neck!
Joshua Breedlove: Idiot! I’ll do what I want to do because this is MY WORLD that you live in and I’m on a mission to DESTROY you.
Buck hits the mat hearing Breedlove’s words and Kitsune quickly pulls him back to his feet. Breedlove open hand slaps him across the face with a SMACK that echoes through the Epicenter. Kitsune hangs tight onto Dresden and Breedlove begins to lay into his body with rights and lefts. He motions for Kitsune to let Dresden go, and he does, causing Buck to stumble forward. Breedlove hooks Dresden with a front facelock, pulls him up and then drops him down with a piledriver!
“I AM A MADE MAN, BUCK, AND THAT WAS THE ONE PERCENTER”
Breedlove shouts, as Buck looks up at him and slowly moves his hand towards his own face, directly in Breedloves eye line and FLIPS HIM OFF. This sends Kitsune and Breedlove into a rage and they just start to pummel him with boot after boot, stomping him seemingly further and further into the mat.
Breedlove screams at Kitsune to get Buck to his feet and one he does, Breedlove cups Buck’s chin with his hand and then open hand slaps him AGAIN. Buck spits, not hitting the ground, a clear act of defiance. The slaps turn to a closed fist as Breedlove hammers Buck from a standing position to his knees and then down to the mat. Still, Buck doesn’t seem to go out. He pushes against the mat, trying to get back to his knees, but Breedlove kicks him hard in the chest.
Buck tries to stand! The Faithful start ROARING for him and finally Breedlove looks at Kitsune and just yells!
He kicks him one more time for good measure and then the two start to leave the ring, but before they can, Buck grabs Breedlove at the ankle. Breedlove turns and Buck just looks up at him, a welt under his eye and blood on his forehead, and he just smiles. Disgusted, Breedlove shakes his head and leaves the ring.
Eryk Masters: Well folks, you saw it here. Breedlove is affiliated with Charles Brandon Magnus, whom Buck effectively ran out of Japan and down to Mexico. There’s a lot of layers to this story, OG.
Other Guy: I think an important one is that Buck just wouldn’t take a beating. I remember that kid being full of fun and laughter, but we’ve got a different Buck Dresden on our hands, Eryk.
Eryk Masters: Speaking of former members of the Bad Ass Brotherhood, we’ve got another one in tonight’s main event! He’s got a daunting task ahead of him, as he was “granted” a World title match against Kenji Yamada. We’ll find out if he’s got what it takes to pry that title from Kenji… NEXT.
We fade back in to the image of Tony Lorenzo holding the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship up in the center of the ring, separating Jonas Coleman and Kenji Yamada. Lorenzo takes two steps out of the way, but before he can signal for the bell, Kenji launches into an attack on Coleman, drawing cheers and boos from the Faithful. With a barrage of right fists to the side of Jonas’ face, Kenji takes an immediate advantage and the bell rings.
It doesn’t take much for Coleman to have a cut opened up, and this would be the story, as a slice of red appears on Jonas’ face and begins to grow with every impact. Kenji takes his time after his initial assault, picking Jonas apart with well timed, well placed strikes.
Jonas crumples to the mat and Kenji follows, covering him for a pinfall attempt. Perhaps unfortunately for himself, Jonas’ instincts kick in and he immediately kicks out at two, not yet ready to lay down for this behemoth.
The crowd cheers at Coleman’s defiance.
Eryk Masters: Kenji’s definitely not out here to make any friends today, not that he’d try with Coleman if he were. Those guys…
Other Guy: You can just say it. Kenji and Project: SCAR abducted Jonas Coleman and left him to die in the Nevada desert. It’s through sheer will that Coleman managed to get through that and get back here. You don’t have to pretty that up.
Coleman’s to his knees, Kenji smiling a warped smile as he takes a running start and delivers a kick directly into Coleman’s sternum, obviously taking joy in the sick thud that echoes through the arena. Kenji doesn’t feel like stopping there, though, this is about dominance and sending a message. He continues to assault Jonas, throwing him around the ring, striking him with surgical precision, and attempting to drain the competitive spirit from the man known as the Butcher.
Jonas, on the other hand, is really hurting. This isn’t the same Kenji he’s run into before. That Kenji was brutal and ruthless. This Kenji is a different kind of beast. The kind that gets his head cut off after he bites someone to check for rabies. That’s what’s going through Coleman’s mind as he takes punch after punch. It starts to go a little blurry. Tony Lorenzo is doing the minimum amount possible, probably per the request of Herald and the Master.
Just when he thought it couldn’t get any blurrier, Jonas is suddenly hit with clarity. So he does when any fighter would do if all of the sudden his cobwebs clear.
He stands up.
The Faithful lose it and Kenji opens his eyes just a little bit wider.
Other Guy: WELL WELL. It looks like the Butcher just woke up.
Eryk Masters: My goodness, OG. He took that last hit and then it’s like a switch flipped.
Jonas smears the excess blood off of his face and looks over towards Kenji Yamada. The World Heavyweight Champion smirks at Coleman who stretches out his right arm and motions for Yamada to bring it, effectively.
Other Guy: Oh my god.
Eryk Masters: We might have a fight on our hands!
Kenji obliges and runs at Jonas and SLAMS his knee into Coleman’s chest. Coleman takes two steps back, doubled over. Kenji tries to follow up, but Coleman ducks him, turns around, and buries his right fist into Kenji’s jaw. This stuns the champion! Kenji is stopped momentarily, but not grounded, and Jonas tees off on him, returning the favor from earlier in the match!
With the momentum shifting, Coleman tries hard to press. He manages to hit a DDT on Kenji, but when he goes for the cover, he doesn’t fully cinch it in and only gets a one and a half count. The two get back to their feet at the same time to the surprise of the Butcher. Kenji goes after him and the two engage in a flurry of punches to the delight and cheers of the bloodthirsty crowd!
Eryk Masters: Jonas HAS to be wondering what he needs to do to gain any ground at all here!
Other Guy: There’s no answer for any of this, E. Kenji is simply a force of nature…
Kenji runs Jonas over, flooring the challenger after hitting him square in the chest with a lariat. Kenji covers but only gets a two. Lorenzo continues to stay somewhat hands off. Kenji grabs the back of Jonas’ head as he’s laying face first on the mat and just proceeds to wipe his face on the mat, staining the canvas with Coleman’s blood.
This gives Kenji the time to wind up and hit him AGAIN in the chest, Jonas lurching forward. Unsatisfied with that, Kenji hits him with a right and a left and then pulls him forward by the head and throws him to the mat. He goes for a cover…
Coleman kicks out again and the Faithful go nuts!
Other Guy: Coleman’s heart is too big for his own good. It’s time to let this one go, heal up, and maybe try again.
Eryk Masters: Jonas doesn’t know how to quit. I’m not sure he even knows the word, OG. He’s not going to let Kenji get the best of him while he’s still conscious. I think it’s clear as day that Kenji is going to have to put him out.
Kenji agrees and goes to pick Jonas up from the mat, but to his surprise, Jonas is already back up on one knee. This makes Kenji MAD and he charges across, but Coleman sees it coming and uses his position to pull down the top rope and Kenji goes flying out!
Other Guy: Coleman is shrewd here, he’s buying himself some critical time.
Eryk Masters: Not much time though, OG! Kenji’s already back to his feet.
Kenji looks up at Jonas, who’s also standing, and he slashes his thumb across his throat and slides underneath the bottom rope. Jonas is waiting and he starts to lay boots into Kenji upon is re-entry into the ring. Kenji is getting kicked over and over again, taking damage, and anger continuing to creep onto his face. Through the kicks, Kenji manages to get back to his feet, as Jonas exasperatedly shakes his head.
The crowd is in disbelief watching this monster do his work. Jonas is known for his ability to keep on pressing and never giving up a fight, but he looks drained here and Kenji is well aware of this. Jonas comes at Kenji with a hard right, but Yamada blocks it and hits Jonas with one of his own, rocking the Butcher. Jonas staggers backwards and Kenji takes the opportunity to strike! He kicks Jonas in the gut, doubling him over, and then he pulls him up into a piledriver!
Jonas BARELY kicks out and the Faithful are in a frenzy!
Eryk Masters: Yep, doesn’t know how to quit. See what I told you, OG!
Other Guy: Look, you can tell me that all you want and I want Jonas to do well just as much as anyone else might, but look at what’s happening to him. He’s getting picked apart here.
Kenji gets Coleman back to his feet, but doesn’t let him stand all the way up. He wants to pull him up for another piledriver, but Jonas shoves Kenji off! Jonas launches an elbow at Kenji and Kenji takes the hit full on! Kenji stumbles, causing Jonas to use his momentum to pull Kenji down and try to lock him with CATACLYSM’S EDGE.
HE HITS IT. JONAS COLLAPSES ONTO KENJI FOR THE COVER.
THRE—NO. Kenji kicks out with AUTHORITY.
Other Guy: We NEARLY had a new champion, Eryk! I bet your heart was peeing!
Eryk Masters: My heart is something, but peeing isn’t it, OG. Look at the situation now.
Kenji and Jonas stand eye to eye. One of Coleman’s eyes are swollen shut and he’s breathing heavily. He just laughs, but Kenji does not as he has nothing but destruction in his eyes. Coleman throws another right, but it’s weak and Kenji dodges it easily. With one fell swoop, Yamada pulls Coleman down and drives his head into the mat with ANOTHER piledriver.
Kenji covers him!
Samantha Coil: Your winner, at a time of thirteen minutes and twenty five seconds… AND STILL THE SHOOT PROJECT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION… KENJI YAMADA.
Mark Kendrick slides the title belt into the ring towards Kenji who walks over and picks it up. He walks over to the downed Coleman and mashes the belt into his face. When he picks it back up, he holds it up so that the Faithful can see the fresh blood across Kenji’s trophy. The blood of the Butcher.
As the show fades, the camera zooms on Kenji’s face next to the freshly bloodied belt, a symbol for all to see and a message for all to get.